Syncing timelines for Success – Your Employer’s and your own

About to accept or start a new job – Why you might not be doing what you expected to be doing, at least not for a while.

You have reached a point in your current job where you are stuck, in terms of feeling as though you are no longer progressing.

Practically, the promotion you want is blocked or, you’ve worked on the same business for three years and the agency doesn’t want to move you or, you’ve worked on all the major accounts of the agency.

You might be frustrated because you don’t feel you can learn anything new, meanwhile you see the world and your peers, all progressing to bigger and better things.

Or, you’re dealing the nightmare scenario, a difficult boss or client that is making your life a living hell. You leave as nothing is likely to change any time soon.

You are ready to make a move. The good news is, you are presented with seemingly, a great career building opportunity. Team, culture, accounts, strategic approach all check out.

At this stage what could go wrong?

You clearly know better than anyone what is attractive to you. What role would allow you to excel, right? Well, yes. And with the information you have everything stacks up. So far so good.

Typically you are hired to address specific client needs but sometimes you are recruited more for where the agency aspires to be versus where the agency is now.

Most individuals will accept at face value, the reason why they are being hired. And most employers will hire specifically for the reasons they say they are hiring.

In all situations’ you are being hired for a recognized skillset. But, though your future employer knows what you can do, they may be hiring you for reasons slightly different to those you signed up for.

Key for you, what job do you want to do now, what’s mission critical versus those things that are ‘nice-to haves’? And do your priorities reconcile with the work your future employer does and expects you to do immediately, versus at some point in the future. Or, is there an understanding that there is a timeline before you get to really use your expertise in the way you want to. Sometimes, there is no understanding!

A classic example, you are hired by a digital agency whose work may be downstream of the lead creative agency. Your new employer hires you not because of an epiphany in the importance of creative strategy rather you are hired to act as a counterbalance to creative strategist working for the lead agency! It’s a defensive hire even if represented otherwise.

The most obvious (and critical) example of a disconnect between employee/employer timelines, intended or otherwise, occur when employers are hiring at the vanguard of organizational or business transformation.

You are promised that your expertise is key to moving the agency in the direction of that change. The problem is that the organization might not be ready for this planned evolution.

Organizational changes that needed to happen prior and concurrent to your hire did not happen or are happening but at a much slower pace. The result for you is, what you hoped to achieve in your new role might take two years versus two months.

A further threat for you, gate keepers/the old guard that might be sitting on agency revenue, oppose the change you bring, extolling what has worked in the past. These individuals or cliques may be perceived as too ‘important’ (despite the fact you were hired to change things) to challenge due to fear if they left or are fired, the revenues they are sitting on might go with them.

There will always be potential challenges beyond yours and to a large extent the agency’s control. It’s key for you to know that your expertise aligns with the organizational needs and ambition of your new employer for the medium but also for the short term.

Having a sense of who key stakeholders are is a given but knowing that they support your expertise is vital. Two action steps you should pursue at interview stage:

Have a few additional meetings beyond those you are directed to have; Ask a few more searching questions that you ordinarily might not ask. These two actions alone may be the difference between a poor move and a great career transition.

Ultimately, what makes your next career move truly redefining in a positive way, is not only clarity about your own objectives and those of your employer but to know that they and the key stakeholders of which they are a part, are aligned.